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  March 17-24, 2003

Pierre Boulez, one of the most influential figures in 20th century music, will lead the Ensemble Intercontemporain in sold-out performances of two of his seminal works-- Anthèmes II and Répons—at Carnegie Hall next weekend as part of New York’s month-long Sounds French Festival. 

Boulez, who turns 78 on March 26, was born in Montbrison, Loire, France, and now lives in Paris. He composed Anthèmes II, for violin and live electronics, in 1997; it was first performed in Donaueschingen, Germany, on October 19 of that year. The first version of Répons was composed in 1981 and first performed in Donaueschingen on October 18 of that year; the second version was first performed in London in 1982; the third version was first performed in Turin, Italy, in 1984. 

The score of Répons calls for six soloists, playing 2 pianos, harp, vibraphone, glockenspiel, and cimbalom, and for an ensemble of 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, bass tuba, 3 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, and contrabass; the sounds of the soloists are also transformed for electronic diffusion around the hall.

Anthèmes II received its U.S. premiere at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall on November 21, 1999, with Hae-Sun Kang, violin, and Andrew Gerszo, technician. This evening’s performance marks the Carnegie Hall premiere of Répons.

”The juxtaposition of the two works on this evening’s program is surely no matter of chance,” writes Bernard Jacobson in the program notes. As Boulez acknowledged in a searching interview with Wolfgang Fink, both take their titles from very old forms. In Anthèmes II, the composer explains, the strophic form “is obviously clearly emphasized by means of brief passages of harmonics and glissandos. In choosing this title I was influenced by a childhood memory of the psalms that were sung during Holy Week—the Lamentatio Jeremiae Prophetae, for example—and by their clear strophic structure, a structure indicated by the Hebrew letters Aleph, Beth, Ghimel and so on. In Anthèmes, this structure is rendered additionally obvious because the harmonics acquire a distinctive color through the use of electronics.”

Boulez studied at the Paris Conservatory with Olivier Messiaen, Andrée Vaurabourg, and René Leibowitz.  Tody, he  celebrated as a composer, conductor, author, He currently holds the Richard and Barbara Debs composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall. In the 1960s, Boulez founded the Domaine Musical concert series to ensure performances of his music and that of his predecessor and peers. Fifteen years later, in Paris, he founded the prestigious research institute IRCAM and the Ensemble Intercontemporain. He continues to conduct the world’s major orchestras with daring and innovative programs.

Repons, Dialogue De L'Ombre Double 
Composer: Pierre Boulez
Conductor: Pierre Boulez
Performer: Vincent Bauer, Florent Boffard, et al.
Polygram Records - #457605 
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Our writers welcome your comments on their pieces.  Send your witty bon mots to jbowles@sequenza21.com and we might even publish some of them here.  And, don't forget--if you'd like to write for Sequenza21 (understanding that we have no money to pay you), send me a note. JB


Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for our Editor's Pick's of the month.  Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, NY, NY 10019  Also, feel free to nominate your favorite composer-- even if it's you--for Spotlight of the Week.
Orchestra Musicians In Hard Times Symphony orchestras are struggling across America. "After relatively flush times in the 1990s, the current problems of the economy are taking their toll. Ticket sales are down for some orchestras; corporate sponsors are withdrawing some support; and foundations, after watching the value of their portfolios drop for several years, are reducing the size of their grants. It's not helping that state and local governments facing large budget deficits are cutting back on their help for the arts." Christian Science Monitor 03/12/03 

Is The Musical Establishment No Longer Worth Joining? Norman Lebrecht is summoned to membership in two British music institutions - one old, one new - and round-files the invitations. Why? Neither represents the state of music at its best. And neither ought to be encouraged or endorsed for its views of the musical world. London Evening Standard 03/12/03 

Sell Off - Major Music Labels For Sale There are five major recording labels. And that number looks to be reduced in the near future. "In a sign of how bad things have become in the down-and-out music industry, most of the five biggest music companies are either up for sale or contemplating deals." Yahoo! (Reuters) 03/13/03 

By Arrangement Only - Music In Other Guises Making arrangements of composers' music was a flourishing business up until the early 20th Century. But more recently the arrangement "is widely regarded as second-class music. At best it is tolerated, at worst disdained." What happened? "For the last 80 years, musicology has been increasingly successful in pressing the case for the urtext: an authentic performing edition in which, purportedly, the composer's original thought is perfectly preserved, every note is sacrosanct and the 'sonic surface' of the music is reproduced exactly as the composer envisaged it. A musical performance, by this view, should amount to the re-creation of a bit of history." The New York Times 03/16/03 

Out Of The Garage - Dominating This Year's SXSW Fest This year's SXSW conference in Austin Texas found "many of the acts that generated the most buzz during the five-day lineup of 1,000-plus bands came from outside the country." This year's dominant music: "Garage bands were definitely the rage this year, a trend that felt like overkill by the end of the week. Many of the groups came up through the same Detroit scene that spawned the Stripes, which led to a quip by the singer of the black-clad Motor City band the Electric Six: 'If this were the Olympics, [Detroit] would be like Russia'." Los Angeles Times 03/17/03 

Bob Moog's Back With The World's Greatest Synthesizer - But What's It Called? Forty years ago Bob Moog invented the first synthesizer. It defined electronic music in the 1960s. Now Moog is back with what he calls the greatest synthesizer ever made. It's his first instrument in decades. Only one problem: "British trademark law means that the 70-year-old creative genius cannot sell his synth under the internationally recognised brands of Moog Music or Minimoog, because they have been appropriated by an entrepreneur in Wales." The Independent (UK) 03/14/03 

Making Out To Mozart? Really? Showing a little skin to try to sell recordings is one thing, but a new series of "classical" (and we use the term advisedly) recordings is right over the top. "Shacking Up To Chopin, Making Out To Mozart and Bedroom Bliss With Beethoven are the three albums in the Love Notes series. Each claims to be "the perfect addition to intimate moments" and boasts a selection of "teasing, tantalising and suggestive melodies with rapturous crescendos". They also promise to provoke "uninhibited passion", "loss of control" and "sleepless nights of the best kind". The Scotsman 03/14/03 

What Makes Baz Boheme Work On Broadway? Opera and Broadway have long tried to mix it up - but rarely with success. Somehow, despite the rising popularity of crossover, one can't escape the conventional wisdom that opera and Broadway occupy two distinct and conflicting worlds. How, then, is one to react to the surprise success of Baz Luhrmann's $6.5 million production of Puccini's La Bohème on Broadway?" Opera News 03/03 

A Concerto About Me - And It's Good! Toronto Star music critic William Littler was surprised to get an announcement of a performance of a new concerto dedicated to...him. So he had to go and see why an Edmonton-based composer was honoring a Toronto-based music writer. "It turned out that he had been reading my reviews on the Star's Web site. The concerto, he explained before its world premiere, represented his way of thanking me." Naturally Littler stayed for the performance, and reports that "the 24-minute concerto turned out to be a piece worth hearing, with a distinctive musical character and an emotional communicativeness." Toronto Star 03/11/03 

The New Classical Music? "Alongside the traditional classical realm of Beethoven, Brahms and Mozart, another scene is asserting itself - one in which unconventional repertoire is embraced, new music by living composers is emphasized and being engaged with the cultural present is a priority. This scene isn't entirely new. But it is deriving renewed energy from artists in their 20s and 30s who grew up listening to the British rock band Radiohead as well as Ravel. And the new sounds are attracting young audiences to a musical genre whose health seems forever at risk." St. Louis Post-Dispatch 03/08/03 

 Last Week's News
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Carmen Helena Téllez, Alain Barker, and Cary Boyce 

Aguavá New Music Studio
Debuts at NY Festival
One of America’s most innovative contemporary music organizations--the Indiana-based Aguavá New Music Studio--makes its New York debut at Washington Square Church next Saturday evening, March 22 under the auspices of the American Festival of Microtonal Music. The group will present the world premiere of Vespers and the New York premiere of Mass by American composer John Eaton, winner of the MacArthur “Genius’ Award. 

Aguavá New Music Studio was founded in 1996 by conductor Carmen Helena Téllez, Professor of Music at Indiana University and former director of the Chicago Contemporary Chamber Players, and composer Cary Boyce.  They were joined by flutist and producer Alain Barker in 2001. 

The organization is an innovative partnership of artists whose projects range from performances at concerts and festivals to recordings and commissions of original music for a variety of independent and collaborative projects.

Eaton has been called “the most interesting opera composer working in America today” by the London Financial Times. His works have been performed extensively throughout the world, and most recently in New York by the Pocket Opera Players and the New York New Music Ensemble. 

Mass was originally composed in 1970 as a pioneering work for voice, clarinet and an orchestra of electronic sound synthesizers. Eaton rewrote the work for voices and instruments in 1998 for Carmen Helena Téllez, preserving its highly expressive microtonal language and the excitement and textural variety made possible by the synthesizers, but ultimately achieving with this “acoustification” a new work in its own right. 

Vespers, was written during the fall of 2002, after a request by Téllez for  companion piece for the Mass for the American Festival of Microtonal Music. It is subtitled “A Meditative and Dramatic Composition in the Form of a Vespers”.  The beginning and ending sections involve the entire ensemble, and are sung in Latin in just intonation to symbolize the reassurance of faith. The middle Psalms and Antiphons, scored for solo instruments and voices are all in English. Using expressive microtonal dissonance in equal temperament, they represent alienation and despair. The work uses the highly exalted operatic virtuosity for which Eaton is justly famous, to which he has added the tenderness and devoutness intrinsic in the sacred texts. 

In addition to Tellez, the performances include the talents of sopranos Bridget Parker and Susan Swaney, mezzo-soprano Hyoun-soo Sohn, tenor Cary Boyce, baritone Andrew Hendricks, bass Curtis Cook, flutist Alain Barker, clarinetist Nicolas del Grazia, pianist Sally Todd, percussionists Kay Stonefelt, and Kenji Fujikawa. They will be joined by bassoonist Johnny Reinhard and  violist Anastasia Sollberg, soloists of the American Festival of Microtonal Music. The performances feature sound-design by David Weber. 

 Saturday, March 22nd, 8:00 p.m.
Washington Square Church, 
133 West 4th Street 
(Tickets are $12 and $5 and can be purchased at the door.)
The Aguavá New Music Ensemble: Carmen Tellez, conductor

Canticum Novum
Composers: Cary Boyce, John Eaton, et al.
Conductor: Carmen Helena Téllez
Aguavá New Music Ensemble

NWEAMO 2003: The Exploding Interactive Inevitable 
October 3-5, 2003: Portland, Oregon (B-Complex) October 10-12, 2003: 
(San Diego State University) 

Miller Theatre: 
2002-03 Season at a Glance

Previous Interviews/Profiles
Simon Rattle, Michael Gordon,Benjamin Lees, Scott Lindroth, David Felder, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Erkki-Sven Tüür,John Luther Adams, Brett Dean, Judith Lang Zaimont, Meyer Kupferman, Evan Chambers, Poul Ruders, Steven R. Gerber, Gloria Coates

Previous Articles/
Busoni The Visionary
The Composer of the Moment:  Mark-Anthony Turnage
Electronic Music
Voices: Henze at 75
Henze Meets Emenim
On Finding Kurtag
Charles Ruggles:  When Men Were Men
Ballet Mécanique
The Adams Chronicles

             EDITORS PICKS - March 2003 (In Progress)

Gigantic Dancing 
Human Machine
Composer: Louis Andriessen
Performer: Bang on a Can
Dutch composer Louis Andriessen stands American minimalism on its head with edgy, pulsating works filled with inner drama that are more likely to induce a dancelike rather than trancelike response.  The results are exciting, even downright racuous and overpoweringly aggressive. Andriessen is from the what architect Robert Venturi might call the  "less is not more, less is a bore" school of composition. Hoketus - the landmark of European minimalism - takes its name from the medieval art of hocketing, splitting a single melody between two groups of instruments separated in space. Earth-shattering and tribal in its elemental power, Andriessen described this piece as a "Gigantic Dancing Human Machine." Its recording is an international collaboration of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, members of London's Icebreaker ensemble, and musicians from Andriessen's own group.


Composer: Gideon Lewensohn
 Ecm Records - #461861 
The  ECM debut of Israeli composer Gideon Lewensohn is an unveiling of an important compositional voice. "Odradek," which apparently doesn't mean anything in any language, is comprised entirely of premiere recordings of pieces that defy
 categorization. His work is sometimes playful, sometimes serious but always hinting at a beauty too fragile to be long sustained.   In his compositions, Lewnsohn pays tribute to Kurtág, Kancheli, Lutoslawski, Shostakovich, Bartók, Mahler, Rochberg, the Hilliard Ensemble, ragtime composer Scott Joplin and many others but in spirit and style his work reminds me most of that of Valentin Silvestrov--music from a strange but beautiful spiritual world of timeless drifting.


Poul Ruders Edition, Volume 3 - Concerti
Composer: Poul Ruders
Conductor: David Starobin
Performer: David Starobin, Mette Ejsing, et al.
Bridge - #9122
 Ruders,  (b. 1949 in Denmark) will be having a "career" year this season, with new orchestral works due for  premiere by the Berlin Philharmonic and The New York Philharmonic.  His opera, "The Handmaid's Tale" is set for new productions by the English National Opera  (April, 2003) and the Minnesota Opera (May, 2003), and the CD of The Handmaid's Tale received two 2001 Grammy nominations–for "Best Opera"; and "Best Contemporary Composition".  This CD features premiere recordings of three Poul Ruders concertos, including Paganini Variations, Ruders's second guitar concerto, a high spirited romp through Paganini's famous 24th Caprice, and a brilliant display vehicle for the brilliant guitarist David Starobin.  The City in the Sea is a dramatic setting of Edgar Allan Poe's gothic poem about a lifeless decaying city, sung with enormous power by Mette Ejsing.  Anima, Ruders's second cello concerto, is a work of true lyric beauty and is played here by the Czech cello virtuoso, and Tchaikovsky competition prize winner, Michaela Fukacova.

Orchestral Works
Composer:): Bright Sheng
Performers: Gondek, Qiang, Wong, 
Hong Kong Phil
 Naxos #8555866
Following on to its Michael Torke release last month, Naxos delivers another of the bright young stars of American music.   Born in China in 1955, Bright Sheng moved to New York in 1982 to study music at Queens College and Columbia University, George Perle and Leonard Bernstein being among his teachers. Chiina Dreams was composed between 1992 and 1995, and each of the four movements are dedicated to various conductors and orchestras in the States, finally brought together after each of their first performances to form a symphonic suite. Each movement is a vivid and dramatic picture of regions in China; the work's title is taken from the idea for the last movement that came to Sheng in a dream. Though there is a sense of Eastern music, the orchestration is purely from the Western world, and employs a large orchestra.  Compelling music, masterfully played.

Untaming the Fury
New American Music for Guitar and Violin
Summit Records  SMT-346
As  Duo46, guitarist Matt Gould and violinist  Beth Ilana Schneider  make exciting music together. On this CD, they work their magic on ten pieces specially commissioned from composers who are not household names yet--but all of whom display great potential. Gould and Schneider are polished players who imbue these short works with a full-range of emotional context.


Baltic Voices 1
Composers: Arvo Pärt, Einojuhani Rautavaara, et al.
Conductor: Paul Hillier
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Harmonia Mundi Franc - #907311
Paul Hillier leads the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in Volume 1 of Baltic Voices — a three-year project to explore the choral riches of the Baltic Sea countries. With a special attention to the choir’s native Estonia, these recordings will highlight the mainstream tradition of the past hundred years, complemented with music of earlier periods and commissions from younger composers. Volume 1 features haunting secular and sacred works by 20th-century composers Cyrillus Kreek, Arvo Pärt, Einojuhani Rautavaara,  Sven-David Sandstrøm, Peteris Vasks, and Veljo Tormis.  Cool, ethereal, other worldly music from a hot bed of great contemporary composers.

Awakening at the Inn of the Birds, etc.
 Composer: Michael Byron
 Performers: FLUX Quartet, Sarah Cahill, Joseph Kubera, and Kathy Supove
Cold Blue Music CB0012
Michael Byron blends  minimalist and maximalist techniques and rigorous processes with freely composed music to create works that range from the hynotic to the boisterous.  Continents of City and Love and Tidal, written 20 years apart, are both arch-form pieces scored for two pianos, synthesizer, string quartet, and doublebass. This new CD collects four of Byron’s very recent works and a new recording of a piece from 1981, all performed by some of today’s most-respected new-music champions, including Sarah Cahill and Joseph Kubera on pianos, Kathleen Supové on synthesizer, and the FLUX Quartet.

Level 7 
Composer: Evan Ziporyn, et al. 
Performer: The Robin Cox Ensemble
The Robin Cox Ensemble is a unique new music group that combines violin, cello, percussion, and live electronics to create vivid performances of new music. In its first three years, this quartet with a one-of-a-kind instrumentation has already staged more forty performances and collaborated with many prominent choreographers and composers, including on this--the group's second CD--the marvelous Evan Ziporyn. 

Orchestral Works 4
Composer: Krzysztof Penderecki
Peformers: Chee-Yun, violin; Wit, 
Polish Nat'l Rso,  Naxos 
The two violin concertos presented here are from the 1970s when Penderecki returned from strict modernism to more traditional modes of composition. The first concerto dates from 1977, and was written for Isaac Stern, its solo writing containing prodigious technical difficulties. The second is not much easier but both violinists on this CD produce lively, impressive accounts.

Albert Herring
Composer: Benjamin Britten
 Performer: Bedford, Northern Sinfonia
 Naxos - 
In which young Albert Herring, the May King (apparently no female virgin could be found to serve as Queen) is taken into hand by the lovers  Sid and Nancy, fortified with rum, and treated to a night on the town where he does--or does not--lose his virtue.  Wonderful, gay comedy and beautifully sung.

Complete Orchestral Works 3
Composer: John Carbon
Conductor: Vladimir Valek, Marin Alsop, et al.
Mmc Records - #2120 
Recent recordings of Carbon's dazzling Violin Concerto, performed by Violinist Peter Zazofsky with Gerhardt Zimmermann conducting the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra; also a marvelous reading by Richard Stoltzman of Carbon's Clarinet Concerto, and Notturno for Trumpet, Harp, and Strings, performed by Gerard Schwarz (with Jeff Silberschlag on trumpet) and the Seattle Symphony.  Valuable recording of an unjustly neglected composer.

Works for Wind Band 3 
Composer: John Philip Sousa
Performer(s): Brion, Royal Artillery Band
Born in Washington DC on 6 November, 1854, the father of American march music was the son of a trombonist with the United States Marine Band and a true prodigy.  He began music lessons at age six and by the age of eleven he organized and led his own ‘quadrille orchestra’. The rest of his orchestra consisted of seven grown men and quickly became a popular dance orchestra in the Washington area. At the age of 25, he was chosen to become Director of the United States Marine Band in Washington. He began leading the Marine Band in January 1880, beginning a fabled 52 year career as a bandmaster. 

Left to His Own Devices
Composer:  Eric Chasalow
 New World Records - #80601 
 Eric Chasalow is Professor of Composition, and Director of BEAMS, the Brandeis Electro-Acoustic Music Studio. Two of the seven electro-acoustic works on this disc--Left to His Own Devices and Suspicious Motives--pay homage to his Columbia-Princeton mentors; the former is built from vocal samples of Milton Babbitt and the sound of the RCA synthesizer while the latter incorporates two motives from Davidovsky’s music—primarily the opening to Synchronisms #6. 
Notable also are two purely acoustic chamber pieces, In the Works and Yes, I Really Did, which reveal a consistency of vision across both musical frontiers.

Concierto De Aranjuez / Fantasia Para Gentilhombre
Composer Joaquin Rodrigo
Performers:  Socias, Pons, Orquesta Ciudad Granada
Harmonia Mundi Franc - #901764
A superb recording of one of the best-known pieces of music of the 20th century.  Finished in 1939, the Concierto de Aranjuez made Rodrigo famous overnight. It is presented here with its ideal coupling, the Fantasía para un gentilhombre, along with two much more rarely performed works. The performers here, all of them Spanish, bring an authentically Iberian coloring to these sunny, romantic works.


Etudes Books I & II
Composer: Gyorgy Ligeti
Performer: Idil Biret, piano
Naxos - #8555777
Ligeti wrote this series of fifteen studies over a period of ten years beginning in the 1980s and the result is  one of its great masterworks of the keyboard. Not for the timid, these pieces take the pianist's skill to levels that border on the impossible.  Idil Biret meets the challenges head-on and delivers an extraordinary performance.  Highly recommended.

An Hour Out of Desert Center
Composer: Chas Smith 
Cold Blue Music CB0013
Chas Smith is a composer, inventor, instrument builder, and performer from the Harry Partch tradition who creates his own musical world, complete with its own instruments he makes himself or finds. as well as a "language" His is a  world of carefully sculpted textures that never sit absolutely still, textures that evolve and are always in the process of a slow change of aural perspective. Critics have frequently compared Smith’s sometimes beautiful, sometimes brooding compositions to those of Ligeti. The three pieces on this new recording feature the composer performing on pedal steel guitars, composer-designed-and-built crotales and sound sculptures, zithers, and a 1948 Bigsby lap guitar.

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